Tennis is a game involving movement, skill and strategy making it an excellent sport for both mind and body.
As a physiotherapist I know how important it is to exercise regularly in order to keep your body healthy. Tennis not only involves every muscle and joint in your body but helps maintain the three key factors required for long term sporting performance…strength, flexibility and balance.
Keep these at optimum levels and you give yourself the best chance of playing the sport that you love for many years to come whilst staying fitter, healthier and happier.
Why are these three so important?
To understand the importance of maintaining your muscle power (strength), it is necessary to understand a little about how your muscles age.
Basically we have two types of muscle fibres, slow ones for endurance and fast ones for power and speed. As we age, if we do not keep the fast fibres working then they can begin to waste from the age of 30, at a rate of around 1% of our muscle mass per year.
That means that by the time you are 70, if you haven’t kept yourself fit then you could have lost between 30-40% of your muscle mass.
However, there have been plenty of studies that show it doesn’t matter what your age is, you can always build up those muscle again if you haven’t been exercising.
This is so important as strong muscles protect your joints against arthritis and will keep your reaction times faster, helping to prevent falls or stumbles.
The more flexible you are then the better your body and muscles can react to being stretched and will therefore be less prone to injury.
Tight muscles mean that you don’t move your joints through their full range of movement, which then deprives the whole of the joint of the nutrition it needs, predisposing it to arthritic changes. Good flexibility means healthier joints and easier movement.
Your balance dictates how quick your reactions will be and is often used as a measure of biological age. The fitter you are, the better your balance is and so effectively the younger you are biologically.
Of course, we should not forget that tennis also improves lung and heart function, can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels and osteoporosis. There is also a great social aspect to tennis and all of these benefits add to making the tennis player healthier both physically and mentally.
Tennis is fun, demanding, exciting and rewarding. What a great way to exercise without the monotony of a repetitive exercise programmes We all know how hard it is to keep up the motivation for regular exercise but by playing tennis it is so easy. Tennis is a game for life and tennis players will gain these benefits for life.
by Suzanne Clark
Chartered Physiotherapist and author of ‘Play Tennis Forever’
To buy your copy of the book click on the image below.